DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 31, 2021) – CORE autosport was in search of a fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona podium, but a brake issue stalled the team’s progress. The Rock Hill, S.C. team still did everything to keep the car on pace and finish the season opener of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship in fifth.

 

After standing down for the 2020 season, CORE returned to the IMSA grid with the No. 54 Composite Resources / CrowdStrike Ligier JS P320. Part of the LMP3 category, the car lined up fifth on the starting grid with Jon Bennett behind the wheel for the start. Bennett picked up two spots in his opening stint and handed the car over to Rolex 24 rookie George Kurtz in third. Kurtz maintained the top-three spot through his stint and gave the No. 54 to Colin Braun not long after night fell over the circuit.

 

During his stint, Braun reported that he wasn’t getting the full braking power expected from the car. After several checks during planned pit stops, the team opted to change the brakes and fulfill the LMP3 requirement for an eight-minute pit stop at the same time.

 

Bennett brought the car back on track with fresh brakes and continued with no issues.

 

Kurtz, however had an entirely different brake problem; he radioed to the team that he’d lost almost all brake power and needed to pit immediately. Upon inspection, the team discovered a broken brake fluid reservoir and took the car back to the garage to replace it. The 17-minute fix dropped the No. 54 down to fifth, many laps behind the class leader.

 

The new reservoir brought the brakes back to life, but they still weren’t at 100 percent. The crew determined the problem was located in the foot box or master cylinder and a full repair would cost too much time, especially since the drivers were doing an excellent job of keeping pace in spite of it.

 

Overnight, Matt McMurry, Kurtz and Bennett were able to make up some of the lost laps thanks partly to full-course yellows. But bad luck returned Sunday morning; McMurry had to pit to remove a piece of debris lodged in the nose of the car and then later suffered a punctured tire.

 

Bennett was in for the final stint and determined to bring the car to the finish line.

 

Twenty-four hours after starting the race in fifth, Bennett, Bruan, Kurtz and McMurry finished in fifth. Though the results may not show it, the race proved that the team was operating at a high level and quickly learning the ins and outs of its new Ligier. Daytona may have been frustrating at times, but the team is looking forward to the next race at Sebring International Raceway (March 18 – 20) buoyed by the potential shown and lessons learned in the season opener.

JON BENNETT
Driver: No. 54 Composite Resources/CrowdStrike Ligier JS P320

“After a year off and reflecting on what’s amazing about racing, it’s great to be back in a race car. I’m happy to be back in IMSA and with all my CORE teammates. We had a lot of highlights at this event, but not necessarily the result that goes along with it. I’m very happy and impressed with our first outing. We learned a lot and I think we’ll be a strong factor in Sebring.

 

“I think all the classes coexisted pretty well at Daytona. There’s a good community of drivers here and everyone had their eyes up.

 

“We certainly had a building brake issue. For all of us though, you come this far and you’re 15 minutes from the finish and you know what to do and how not to be a danger to other people’s races. It was important to finish the race and we did so safely.”

COLIN BRAUN
Driver: No. 54 Composite Resources/CrowdStrike Ligier JS P320

“As soon as I got in the car I could tell we didn’t have the same braking capacity that we had in practice. You couldn’t really attack for most of the race. The crew tried to sort it out and put in a valiant effort to get it fixed, but we never had a quick fix and had to keep, kind of, driving around the problem. It’s tough to diagnose a brake problem in the middle of the race when you don’t have any telemetry and very little experience with the car. George, Matt and Jon all did a great job of not turning this issue into a big problem. It definitely would have been easy to make a little mistake and have a big moment.

 

“Overall, I’m really proud of everyone. Certainly, we would’ve liked to contend. On pace, considering our brake issues, we were running pretty well. If we had a car to fight, we would have been in great shape. Beyond that we had no reliability issues, and nobody put a foot wrong. It wasn’t meant to be, but we have a lot to build on for Sebring.”

GEORGE KURTZ
Driver: No. 54 Composite Resources/CrowdStrike Ligier JS P320

“I was heading into the Bus Stop and the brake pedal was really long. I lost almost all braking power, but luckily, I was able to get it slowed down enough to get through the tire path and get it back to the pits. The guys took a look at it, took it back to the garage and did a great job trying to get us back out quickly. We had problems the entire race. We fought through it and did the best we could. I can’t thank the team enough for giving us a great car and a great opportunity to put us in a winning position.

 

“It was a fantastic event. I felt really comfortable, especially toward the end. With the practice we had and with such a great team in CORE, they prepared me really well and I can’t wait for the next one.”

MATT MCMURRY
Driver: No. 54 Composite Resources/CrowdStrike Ligier JS P320

“It was a really weird issue with the brakes. I’ve never had something like that in a race car. I don’t know if anyone’s experience something like that. Besides the brake issue, we had a solid car and a solid lineup, and we stayed out of trouble the whole race, which is pretty remarkable. Without that issue we could have done really well, but that’s racing.”